-Theories & Thought Bubbles-
Pay Attention to the Talking Horse
A major assassin with an axe to grind, a hostile mafia family needing a password to access their family fortune, crooked detectives, sadistic mob button-men, and a flying horse? Happy! is a four-part miniseries written by Grant Morrison, known for his work on Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, and the Invisibles, and this story marks Morrison’s debut for Image Comics. He is accompanied by Darick Robertson, the artist behind The Boys and Transmetropolitan. It is a tale centered around a notorious hit-man named Nick Sax, a brutal, icy, and remorseless man only concerned with his target and the payment. But the power of Morrison’s usual complexity cannot be undone.
No one doubts Morrison’s ability to come up with interesting characters, especially those that come from worlds of depravity. The first introduction to the main character involves a serial killer, a hooker, drugs, and lots of body fluids. For the first half of the comic, it actually seems like Morrison has gone out of his way to give the reader something they can understand. But once Nick Sax ends up in the hospital, the reader is reminded that Morrison likes to throw screwballs at us, allowing for more questions than actually answering the ones we already have. Hence the emergence of a little blue flying horse.
To balance out the more cryptic side of Morrison’s writing, the artistic styling of Darick Robertson brings a realistic sense to the story. The looks of puzzlement (if you’ve read The Boys you know that is a Robertson special), details hidden within shockingly adult situations, and the ability to feel exactly what the character feels, all allow the comic to become more accessible to the reader. Even upon the introduction of the talking horse, Robertson does his level best to make the appearance believable. Panel structure is also key within the story, the comic begins with clearly defined panels and is easily followed, but as Nick Sax travels through Morrison’s plot, the panels become increasingly discordant. Perspective changes as Sax lies in a hospital bed, they become hazy as the character comes back to consciousness and then revert to stark clarity upon noticing the talking horse. And then there’s the horse itself. Ripped from old cartoons, the flying horse seems like an amalgam of Qucik-Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound, with little cherub wings sprouting from its back. But who is this horse and why is it Sax is the only one able to see it?
Happy! represents Morrison’s chance to entice new readers to his work, and through Robertson’s art readers are better afforded that opportunity. However, it should be said that this comic is not meant for children. It would be irresponsible to place this story in the hands of anyone under 16, based on the graphic nature and mature circumstances that exist within the pages. That being said, it is worth a read, and seeing as how it’s only going to be a four-part story it might be worth the four months and $15 (making a guess about the cost of four issues) that it will take to collect.
- Josh Nelson
Fleet Commander of the Fantasonauts
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